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  • Interpretation
  • No.448
  • Date
  • 1998/02/27
  • Issue
    • Where under the dual system of litigation adopted by the Constitution, the administrative court shall have jurisdiction over cases involving disputes between the people and government agencies over rights and obligations, in which court shall the jurisdiction be vested when the dispute arises from the government agency*s sale and/or lease of a public property for and on behalf of the Treasury?
  • Holding
    •        Article 77 of the Constitution provides that "the Judicial Yuan (“Judiciary”) shall be the highest judicial organ of the State in charge of the trial of civil, criminal, and administrative cases, and the imposition of disciplinary measures against public functionaries." Hence, civil cases are distinguishable from administrative litigations in the administration of justice. Moreover, while the people have the right of instituting legal proceedings under Article 16 of the Constitution, it is left to law to prescribe what court has jurisdiction over the suit and how the proceeding should be conducted. This has been clearly expounded in our Interpretation No. 297. Under the existing law, trials of civil and administrative cases are conducted in separate courts of different nature under a dual system of litigation. All disputes arising out of legal relations in the area of the public law are tried by administrative courts, and controversies arising out of relations under private laws are tried at courts of general jurisdiction. Where an administrative agency engages in the sale or lease of a public property for and on behalf of the Treasury, the activity is not a unilateral administrative act taken in exercising the public power vested in the agency, with external legal consequence. Rather, it is a non-administrative act; that is, an act of contract in the area of private law. Any dispute between the parties arising out of or in connection with such sale or lease must therefore be resolved through the procedure of civil litigation. The Supreme Administrative Court*s Precedents P. T. 270 (Supreme Administrative Court, 1969) and T. T. 159 (Supreme Administrative Court, 1972) are both intended to explain that any dispute arising out of or in connection with the sale or lease of public property by an administrative agency for and on behalf of the Treasury must be tried by a ordinary court, and are consistent with the existing law with respect to the division of the power of adjudication, without causing detriment to the people*s exercise of their right of instituting legal proceedings, and are thus not in conflict with the Constitution.
  • Reasoning
    •        Article 77 of the Constitution provides that "the Judicial Yuan (“Judiciary”) shall be the highest judicial organ of the State in charge of the trial of civil, criminal, and administrative cases, and imposition of disciplinary measures against public functionaries." Hence, civil cases are distinguishable from administrative litigations in the administration of justice. Moreover, while the people have the right of instituting legal proceedings under Article 16 of the Constitution, it is left to law to prescribe what court has jurisdiction over the suit and how the proceeding should be conducted. This has been clearly expounded in our Interpretation No. 297. Under the existing law, trials of civil and administrative cases are conducted in separate courts of different nature under a dual system of litigation handled respectively by the administrative courts and the courts of general jurisdiction. All disputes arising out of legal relations in the area of the public law are tried by administrative courts, and controversies arising out of relations under private laws are tried at courts of general jurisdiction. No confusion is allowed in their respective duties and functions. Where an administrative agency engages in the sale or lease of a public property for and on behalf of the Treasury, it is not a unilateral administrative act taken in exercising the public power vested in the agency, with external legal consequence. Rather, it is a non-administrative act; that is, an act of contract in the area of private law. Any dispute between the parties arising out of or in connection with such sale or lease must therefore be resolved through the procedure of civil litigation. The Supreme Administrative Court*s Precedent P. T. 270 (Supreme Administrative Court, 1969) holds: "Where an administrative agency disposes of a public property on behalf of the Treasury, it is an act of contract in the area of private law. A person who is in dispute over such sale or lease, regardless of whether he is claiming a lease or claiming that he is entitled to a preemption right, may only institute a civil litigation for resolving the dispute, rather than seeking remedy through the procedure of administrative litigation." Additionally, it is held by the Supreme Administrative Court in its Precedent T. T. 159 (Supreme Administrative Court, 1972): "While the action of an administrative agency in leasing to a citizen a tract of State-owned land under the Rules Governing the Lease of State-owned Arable Land in Taiwan Provinces is an act under public law for the purpose of performing its duties on behalf of the State, the relation of lease between the agency and the citizen over the State-owned land is a contractual relation in the area of private law. If the defendant agency, upon finding that the land at issue is not being cultivated by the plaintiff, rescinds the lease upon a notice to cancel the plaintiff*s right to rent the land, it is a manifestation of intention expressed by such agency in the capacity of a lessor to the plaintiff based on their relation under private law, rather than an administrative act done by the defendant in its capacity as a government agency and addressed to the plaintiff. Hence, no remedy may be sought pursuant to the procedure of administrative litigation." Both decisions are intended to explain that any dispute arising out of or in connection with the sale or lease of public property by an administrative agency for and on behalf of the Treasury must be tried by a ordinary court, and are consistent with the existing law with respect to the division of the power of adjudication, without causing detriment to the people*s exercise of their right of instituting legal proceedings, and are thus not in conflict with the Constitution.  
      
    • *Translated by Raymond T. Chu.
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